This address by Pope Benedict XVI to the US Bishops is important. Religious freedom is not just a nice idea. Practically, the concept of religious freedom is indispensable to living out our faith on a day-to-day basis. The conscience rights at issue in the President's health care plan or in the matter of same-sex unions, legalized in some states, might not be important to many Catholics. Indeed, the truth of the matter is that there are any number of priests and religious, not just lay folk, who would not raise their voices against government intrusion on our religion in these areas because they have no opposition to sterilizations or gay marriages. However, this matter goes far beyond any particular moral issue and so-called progressive Catholics need to pay attention. By curtailing conscience rights in these areas, the government crosses the line; by denying conscience rights the government is not simply protecting the privacy of those who wish to engage in certain behaviors (ostensibly protected by the freedom of association clause of the Bill of Rights and by the court-established right of personal autonomy) but requiring individuals and religious institutions to aid in carrying out those acts even when their religious beliefs are in direct opposition to the behavior in question. In so doing, a government asserts a control over the individual that is totalitarian, meaning that it exercises dictatorial control over one's life including control over one's freedom, over one's will, and even over one's thought.